There have been many public services announcements about the dangers of smoking, but Thursday some area students got to hear from a cancer survivor who knows how smoking can impact a life. Reena Robert's life story has been played out in television commercials, but it is nothing compared to hearing her story in person. "I don't breath through my nose anymore, I breathe through this," Reena said referring to her electronic voice box. That is why she travels throughout the state speaking to kids about the dangers of smoking. Thursday, Roberts found her way to North Brunswick High School. "You see everything on TV and you think it's a certain way, but as soon as you see it in person it's completely different. She's so young and you don't think it could happen to you, but seeing is believing," said North Brunswick 11th grader Shakyla Boseman. Reena started smoking at the age of 13, by 15 she was addicted, and by 19 she was sick. Doctors thought she had laryngitis. It was not until she was 21 when she was finally diagnosed with throat cancer. Now she can only communicate through an electronic voice box. "I really didn't realize the seriousness of it until I was at Baptist Hospital and they were telling me that you can either have this surgery or you are not going to be here for another year," Roberts said. Now she wants teens to know bad choices early on can impact your life forever. "You don't want to pay a life long consequence for a decision that you made when you were in high school." She said if she can reach one student, then she has done her job. According to Erica Henry, it is a job well done. "I don't plan to do that, after hearing what I heard today." Reena has three children and she lives in Asheville, but spends a lot of time traveling throughout North Carolina with the health and wellness campaign.
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